In the beginning, No. 27 was just a number. However, after a few laps, the crowd was cheering, laughing, yelling and stomping. For, they were curious to catch the glimpse of the man under the orange helmet — the man who overtook about 30+ bike racers at the KTM Orange Day V2.0 at E-Zone Entertainment in Marathahalli on Sunday.
After beating several hardcore KTM Duke racers, including the yesteryear champions of Orange Day, the winner, Rafi of Team Balance Point, was chosen the Duke of Bangalore.
Being a racer and a bike stuntman, one would think of Rafi as the ‘cool’ dude who loves to party and booze. But nothing could be further from the truth. “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t party. I don’t have girlfriends too,” says the 22-year-old biking champion.
Gifted with an ever-smiling countenance, Rafi also has in him a go-getter attitude that made him not just the Duke of Bangalore, but also the winner of other bike-racing awards. “When I am on the bike, I think of nothing other than winning the race. I do not think about my rivals. In fact, the more competent they are, the more challenging it gets. And I love the very feeling of being a part of the race with several avid bike riders. It’s a feeling that needs to be experienced,” he says.
On the challenges of being a bike racer, he says that the government must do its bit to render its support. “More often than not, people are biased about a bike racer. They categorise you as a gang of miscreants who tease women and disturb the public. This is definitely not the case. Like sportsmen, we too are just a passionate group of people. The situation abroad is totally different because biking is a hobby that’s encouraged. As a person, I believe in safe stunts and the government must give us space and resources to take our passion forward,” he says.
The motivating factor, however, is that the new generation has been considering biking seriously. A bike mechanic by profession, Rafi, along with Team Balance Point, also teaches freestyle biking. “In fact, we have a big team of avid bikers between the age groups of 18 and 35. We participate in many races and perform several stunts. Anybody who has passion for biking can approach us and we will be happy to train them,” he says.